As a new mom, you might have plans to breastfeed your baby, but you may not know what you need to make your breastfeeding journey more successful or just plain easier. Whether you are exclusively breastfeeding, exclusively pumping, or doing a combination of both, this article will provide you with a list of breastfeeding must-haves that will help you along the way.
Here are some breastfeeding must-haves.
Nursing bras make breastfeeding so much easier, especially for middle of the night feedings. You can also find tops especially made for nursing moms. Worth every penny!
When you need to breastfeed away from your house, or when company is over, many women prefer to have their baby covered. I always kept one in my diaper bag, and then I had it whenever I needed it.
This pillow fits around your waist and provides a place for your baby to lay while you are breastfeeding. This can save your arms and back from a lot of potential aches and pains!
Disposable nursing pads
You place these inside your bra to absorb any extra milk that leaks out in between feedings. Just hearing your baby cry can often cause your body to release a little milk. Or if you go too long in between feedings, that can also cause some leaks. (One of the unfortunate parts of breastfeeding!) Disposable nursing pads are a must to keep your bra and shirts dry.
The first few weeks of breastfeeding can be pretty hard on your body as your baby learns to latch and your nipples adjust. Often this can result in dry/cracked nipples. Nipple cream is a must for helping with this issue.
If your nipples need time to heal, or your baby has a bad latch, a nipple shield can be a life saver. The shield offers a layer of protection for you that helps make nursing less painful as you work through any latch issues.
On a side note, if you are having issues with your baby’s latch, I would encourage you to meet with a lactation consultant or talk to your pediatrician. They can check your baby for a tongue-tie, which can interfere with proper latching.
Many moms choose to pump in addition to breastfeeding. There are a number of benefits to doing this.
- Pumping in between feedings can help increase your milk supply, if that is something you struggle with.
- Pumping makes it easier for others to help you feed the baby. When you are solely breastfeeding, you have to be available 24/7 which means spending time away from your baby can be very challenging. Your partner or other caregivers can help out with feedings and that can be a game changer!
- If you work outside of the home, pumping allows your baby to still have breastmilk when you are away.
If you do choose to pump in addition to breastfeeding, there are some additional items you will need.
You can buy a handheld pump, but I wouldn’t recommend this option if you are pumping routinely. Electric pumps are way more efficient. Check with your insurance company, because often they will cover or at least help cover the cost of pump.
I recommend getting a double pump so you can pump both breasts at the same time. This will cut down on the time it takes to pump. Sometimes you can also rent a hospital-grade pump from the hospital in which you gave birth. These are more heavy-duty and if you are exclusively pumping, it might be worth looking into this option.
Along with the pump, you might need to buy a different size of the plastic shields that come with the pump. These are not one size fits all. Finding the right size fit is crucial to your pumping success.
If the shield is too small, it will be very uncomfortable and can cause nipple pain. If it is too big, it won’t apply the right amount of suction. If you need help figuring out what size is best, contact a local lactation consultant or your labor and delivery unit and they can usually provide you with resources.
Pumps will come with their own set of bottles, but I would recommend buying some extra ones that will fit your pump as well. That way, you can always have some clean ones on hand as needed. If you are planning to bottle feed along with breastfeeding check out our post on bottle feeding must-haves as well.
If you are incorporating bottle feeding and pumping when your baby is a newborn, you will want to start with the slowest flowing nipple. Nipples are typically labeled with a numbering system or description. (Slow, medium, fast or 1, 2, 3, 4).
As your baby grows and is eating more ounces per feeding, you can bump up to a faster flowing nipple. This will help shorten feeding times and won’t frustrate your baby with too slow of milk flow.
Bottle cleaning supplies
A bottle brush is essential for easily cleaning out bottles. Try to find one that has an attachment for cleaning inside nipples. I would also recommend a bottle drying rack. This allows bottles to dry quicker and helps keep everything organized.
Breast milk storage bags
If you have a fairly ample milk supply, you will probably find you can pump more milk than your baby will be consuming that day. Breast milk stays good in the freezer for about 9 months. Label the bags with the amount of milk it contains and the date it was pumped, so you can keep track of how old the milk is.
Hands-free pumping bra
If you plan to do a lot of pumping, I highly recommend investing in one of these. This is exactly what it sounds like. This bra allows you to do other things while you pump. Even if you aren’t trying to multi-task as you pump, If nothing else, it gives your arms a break from having to hold the bottles for an extended period of time.
I hope this list helps you have a successful breastfeeding experience!